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World Test Championship

Beating the best in their own backyard, part 1: A Test World XI to beat India in India

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Few tours are as challenging as beating India in India in Test cricket with the team, who made it to the World Test Championship finals, losing just five Test matches at home since 2010.

To challenge India in India, we truly need a world XI that can match them in each department. In part one of the series that looks at beating the WTC finalists at home, we look into a XI capable of pushing the Indian side in their backyard.

*Stats since 2010 in Asia

Dimuth Karunaratne

Matches – 43, Runs – 3432, Average – 44.00, HS – 244, 100s – 9, 50s – 17

The Sri Lankan batsman is among the leading Test openers in world cricket today and has a formidable record in Asia, notching up runs at an average of 44 with nine hundreds in the past decade. With openers needed to counter spin as well in Asia, Karunaratne fits into this XI snugly.

Azhar Ali

Matches – 44, Runs – 3912, Average – 52.86, HS – 302*, 100s – 12, 50s – 20

Few Pakistan batsmen have dominated from the opening slot in recent years. Azhar Ali has thrived in the role in the past and has a compelling record in Asia too. 12 of his 18 Test centuries have come in Asia with a triple hundred in a day-night Test against West Indies the highlight of his career thus far.

Steve Smith

Matches – 13, Runs – 1200, Average – 48.00, HS – 178*, 100s – 4, 50s – 5

Smith’s hundreds in Pune and Ranchi in 2017 stand tall amidst the best Test knocks in India. A good player of spin, Smith has shown he can thrive in these adverse conditions for non-Asian batters and walks into this XI at No.3.

Babar Azam

Matches – 13, Runs – 1054, Average – 55.47, HS – 143, 100s – 4, 50s – 6

Babar Azam took to Test cricket slow, but in the last couple of years has showcased remarkable form, scoring runs at an average of 60-plus across continents in 2019 and 2020.

Joe Root (c)

Matches – 20, Runs – 1992, Average – 52.42, HS – 228, 100s – 5, 50s – 9

Joe Root showed the way for England batsmen in India earlier this year, finding a way to counter the spin threat with his exemplary sweep shots. Root’s incredible record in Asia in the last decade is unmatched by the likes of Smith and Williamson.

Mushfiqur Rahim (wk)

Matches – 45, Runs – 3216, Average – 44.05, HS – 219*, 100s – 5, 50s – 17

The wicketkeeper in this line-up, Bangladesh’s Rahim is an underrated Test batsman with a strong record in Asian countries. He recently showed what he could do in Test cricket in the series against Sri Lanka at home, averaging 74.0 across the two Tests.

Shakib Al Hasan

Matches – 33, Runs – 2371, Bat Average – 43.10, Wickets – 131, Bowl Average – 31.74, 100s – 3, Best – 6-59

Shakib pips Ben Stokes to this line-up to facilitate the option of playing three quicks and two spinners. Shakib’s batting record is impressive, but is his ability to play the Jadeja role with the ball that makes him a certain pick in this XI.

Rashid Khan

Matches – 5, Wickets – 34, Average – 22.35, Best – 7-137, Five-fors – 4

Rashid Khan’s incredible start to Test cricket sees him pip the likes of Nathan Lyon and Jack Leach into this XI. In five Tests in Asia so far, Rashid has four five-wicket hauls and has shown he can bowl long spells if needed, recording the most overs ever bowled by a bowler in an innings in Tests this century recently.

Mitchell Starc

Matches – 10, Wickets – 37, Average – 27.94, Best – 6-50, Five-fors – 3

Handy with the new ball and destructive with the old, Starc edges his teammate Pat Cummins to this XI for his ability to reverse swing the ball. Starc can be a difficult proposition to handle when the ball reverses, with his around the wicket angle creating difficulties for right-handers.

Mohammad Abbas

Matches – 9, Wickets – 36, Average – 19.05, Best – 5-33, Five-fors – 2

Stringent with his lines, Abbas has a good record in Asia with his bowling average among the best in the continent in the last decade. With Starc offering enough in terms of raw pace, Abbas will be a good second-fiddle in the fast bowling group.

James Anderson

Matches – 21, Wickets – 62, Average – 24.24, Best – 6-40, Five-fors – 2

James Anderson, despite all the criticism thrown at him, has a commendable record in Asia in Test cricket. He averages just 24.24 with the ball in the last decade in the continent and in the recent series in India showed that he could produce the magic deliveries to work over Indian batters in their backyard.

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